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Short-active photoperiod gestation induces psychiatry-relevant behavior in healthy mice but a resiliency to such effects are seen in mice with reduced dopamine transporter expression.

  • Author(s): Kwiatkowski, Molly A
  • Cope, Zackary A
  • Lavadia, Maria L
  • van de Cappelle, Chuck JA
  • Dulcis, Davide
  • Young, Jared W
  • et al.

A higher incidence of multiple psychiatric disorders occurs in people born in late winter/early spring. Reduced light exposure/activity level impacts adult rodent behavior and neural mechanisms, yet few studies have investigated such light exposure on gestating fetuses. A dysfunctional dopamine system is implicated in most psychiatric disorders, and genetic polymorphisms reducing expression of the dopamine transporter (DAT) are associated with some conditions. Furthermore, adult mice with reduced DAT expression (DAT-HT) were hypersensitive to short active (SA; 19:5 L:D) photoperiod exposure versus their wildtype (WT) littermates. Effects of SA photoperiod exposure during gestation in these mice have not been examined. We confirmed adult females exhibit a heightened corticosterone response when in SA photoperiod. We then tested DAT-HT mice and WT littermates in psychiatry-relevant behavioral tests after SA or normal active (NA; 12:12 L:D) photoperiod exposure during gestation and early life. SA-born WT mice exhibited sensorimotor gating deficits (males), increased reward preference, less immobility, open arm avoidance (females), less motivation to obtain a reward, and reversal learning deficits, vs. NA-born WT mice. DAT-HT mice were largely resilient to these effects, however. Future studies will determine the mechanism(s) by which SA photoperiod exposure influences brain development to predispose toward emergence of psychiatry-relevant behaviors.

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